How does Weighless compare to Weight Watchers?

Someone in our Facebook Community recently asked about Weight Watchers.

“I would love to hear your thoughts about doing WW alongside Weighless, or does that miss the point entirely? What about portion control help?”

We have a lot of WW alumni in the Weighless program and some of them continue to count points for a while but most find that the approach that we practice eventually makes this unnecessary.

In the Weighless program, you learn how to eat the right foods, in the right amounts, and for the right reasons. It seems to me that Weight Watchers teaches you to eat the “right” foods, in the right amounts, but for all the wrong reasons: The best food choice is the one that’s lowest in points. And the right amount is determined not by your hunger or level of satisfaction, but by how many points you have left for the day.

As I said in a recent podcast, being aware of the calorie density of foods and what appropriate portions look like is certainly useful.  But if that were all it took, well, WW wouldn’t have so much repeat business!

Choosing the right foods in the right amounts and for the right reasons also requires cultivating awareness and motivation, building solid habits, and developing skills and strategies to manage social cues, environment and emotional triggers, self-talk, and so on.
Becoming someone who weighs less involves more than counting points. But the good news is, as you become someone who weighs less, that sort of rigid accounting also becomes less and less necessary.


Categories FAQ

Healthy weight vs. happy weight

A while back, I asked a group of people who were considering enrolling in the Weighless program about their experiences, beliefs, and goals relating to weight loss.

One of the questions I asked was, “How much do think you’d need to lose to be HEALTHY?” The next was, “How much do think you’d need to lose to be HAPPY?”

The responses were absolutely fascinating–and offer a lot of insight into why so many of us struggle.

Before you read further, why not answer those two questions for yourself:

In order to be healthy, I’d need to lose ____________

In order to be happy, I’d need to lose   ____________

Read moreHealthy weight vs. happy weight

What it’s like to weigh less

Sure, I can tell you what the Weighless Program is all about. But perhaps you’d rather hear from those who are actually in the program? Here are just a few of the emails and posts that come in from our members over the last few months:

“I remember one year ago the pain and despair I felt around food. It was so exhausting to be in conflict constantly between “long-term goals me” and “Instant gratification me”. And now I’m just me! I haven’t felt the “ah, screw it” mentality in about 6 months!  I am just so proud and happy. I truly do feel free! 🙂”

“ As a physician who has always struggled with my own weight, I’ve tried many approaches over the years, and the Weighless program created by Monica Reinagel and Brock Armstrong has been the most successful and has simply made the most sense, based on the way the body and the mind work. To be healthier, we have to change a lifetime of habits. Monica and Brock give us actionable steps, one at a time, that help us feel better about living better. This led to changes in my behaviors that I now want to continue, rather than looking forward to the end of self-deprivation. I couldn’t be happier with my own progress this year or the road ahead: slow weight loss–the best kind–and feeling good about myself.”

“I just wanted to say how grateful I am for this program. I was hemming and hawing about joining – it was a lot of money to put forward on something unknown but I am SO glad I took the plunge. Five months later I am 15 pounds lighter without any dieting, deprivation, or food anxiety. I feel fantastic. I’m wearing smaller clothes, I have more energy, and I just feel more like the real me.

“When I think about my weight watcher years – the guilt, the starvation before weigh ins, the food obsession that came with tracking and measuring each ounce, the fear of ‘blowing it’ if I ever strayed – it’s a huge weight off my shoulders as well to drop all of that and just live a healthier life overall. Of course I’ve had to make changes, but they were on my own imperfect terms and at my own pace.

“So I just wanted to throw out a big thank you to Monica, Brock and all of you for your advice, talking me through my rough patches and keeping me focused on the big picture. You are all amazing. Looking forward to continuing this journey together!”

“I’m so very thankful for the Weighless program! I decided to try on a dress that I’ve always considered my “goal” dress and lo and behold it fit!!! My sweet husband said, “Wow, it’s so great to see you lose weight and get fit without dieting!” Life has been been chaotic the last few months, but I discovered the Weighless principles work no matter what is happening, especially as they become a way of life. I’ve learned so much from Monica, Brock and all of the wonderful members of this group!”

“It’s been more than three and a half months since I finished the weightless year and I wanted to let you know that I’m delighted with how I’m continuing to progress. I’ve actually lost more weight since we finished without really seeming to try (don’t get me wrong, I’m being mindful but it seems like a lot of the lessons from the weightless year are embedded rather than effortful).

“I have never felt so confident in my ability to take care of my own self and my own needs. It’s actually impacting several areas of my life and I am so so grateful. I have lost weight, obviously, maybe dropped 2-3 dress sizes but more important is the perspective, skills and confidence I have gained. For the first time in my whole life I don’t feel like I’m my own worst enemy. I’m proud of myself.

“I will always be grateful for this gift you have given me and am hopeful (I know the tools are there to identify any slippery slopes before they get too out of hand! ) that I can live this way for the rest of my life.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating this amazing program. There are so many words to describe it – transformative, liberating, amazing, brilliant….I could go on. You have truly changed my life for the better. You have also helped me to model a more positive message for my two young daughters and for that – I am eternally grateful.”

“This past week, I saw people I haven’t seen in a while and a few noticed that I’ve lost weight.  On the numerous times when I’ve done Weight Watchers, I would lose the first 10 pounds in the first two or three weeks, and no one would EVER notice. I guess there’s a big difference between losing 10 pounds of fat in a healthy way and losing 10 pounds of god-knows-what in an unhealthy way. I haven’t spent the last three months weighing and measuring and depriving and monitoring like crazy. I’ve just spent the last three months living my normal life, with a few tweaks here and there.”

“The thing that amazes me most is how enjoyable this new lifestyle is. I don’t feel deprived, or like I’m having less fun (which is what I expected). If anything I feel more energetic and joyful. I would never have believed it 6 months ago.”

“Instead of making food choices in order to lose weight (Snackwells, anyone?), I’m now making decisions that improve my health. It’s a pro-health and pro-me approach to food and life. And my resulting weight loss feels like a welcome side effect. It doesn’t feel like deprivation, so it doesn’t feel so exhausting and scary. This non-diet Weighless approach has been free from the backlash, setbacks, binge eating and guilt that has plagued me with diets.”

“So grateful for this program, for Monica and Brock, for all the honesty and empathy from everyone here. Back in July I couldn’t have fathomed weighing less without the suffering and guilt. I have really turned myself around from where I was then. Just today I had lunch with my dad at a place I hadn’t been to since the summer. At that time, I parked in a handicapped space! It pained me to walk and I got out of breath so easily. Today I happily parked in a regular spot, and was reminded of how far I have come. I’m down about 17 lbs, in smaller clothes, and moving so much more comfortably.”

“One of my favorite things about this program is that I do not dread special events.  I’m not waiting until all the planets align and there are no special events on the horizon to start a diet. I have navigated weddings, vacations and holidays without obsessing over food choices. I’ve made good choices and poor choices, but overall I feel much more in control of my outcomes.  No one indulgence is going to derail me.”

“Yesterday when I got home from being gone for the holidays,I stepped on the scale. I’m the same as when I left 2 weeks ago. A surprise, considering the haphazard schedule and occasional treats. Then it hit me. I’ve shed the yo-yo dieter skin. Last year and every previous year since God created the earth I’ve started some crazy new diet come the new year. Not this year. I’m happy. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m on the path that will take me there. Thanks, everyone! Happy New Year!”

Postcard from the parking lot

As I turned into the parking lot of my local grocery store, I could see that competition for parking spots was intense. A snowstorm was in the forecast, after all. And there was a football game that afternoon. Cars were jockeying for position with their blinkers on, waiting for other shoppers to load their groceries and pull out. Others were circling like sharks, hoping to spot and claim an about-to-be-vacated spot before others could react. I could almost see the cloud of stress and frustration rising over the lot and rolling toward me. With a feeling of relief, I banked to the right, headed to the furthest corner and pulled into one of dozens of empty spots. I collected my empty grocery bags, locked the car door, and because I happened to be wearing tennis shoes, jogged the 200 yards to the door of the grocery store.

But so what?

Opting out of the parking lot drama definitely reduced my stress level. But, let’s be serious: Will the extra dozen or so calories I burned by jogging in from the corner of the lot make any meaningful difference in terms of my weight? Of course not. But it’s not about the calories I’m burning. It’s about the mindset I’m creating. Every time I purposefully choose a farther parking spot, or take the stairs, or jog across the street, I subtly reinforce (to myself) my identity as someone who chooses to be active, who makes healthy choices. And that spills over into so many other aspects of my life. Such as which foods went into the grocery cart once inside the store. What we do, say, and think really does affect how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves affects what we do, say, and think. It can be a virtuous cycle or a downward spiral. So, the next time you find yourself questioning whether a tiny thing like parking further away from the door can ever really make a difference, remember that all of these small decisions add up to the person you are becoming. Spiral up, friends. #weighless

Your diet is not the problem

Most diets pay way too much attention to what you eat and not enough to why and how you are eating it.  You get detailed instructions about exactly what to eat and what not to eat. And if you follow the instructions, you will almost certainly lose weight.

But if you are overweight, the real problem is not your diet. It’s your habits that need to change.

“Interventions that focus on changing an individual’s behaviour are not usually successful at changing an individual’s habits because they do not incorporate the strategies required to break unhealthy habits and/or form new healthy habits,” researcher Gina Cleo points out 

Lose all the weight you want on whatever diet regimen you choose. If you haven’t fixed the underlying habits, you are almost certain to regain the weight.

Cleo’s latest study, published last month in the International Journal of Obesity found that overweight adults who lost weight through focusing on changing their eating and movement habits (as opposed to following a certain diet) were more likely to maintain their weight loss for up to 12 months.

“Maintaining weight loss is often the hardest part of the weight-loss journey,” she says, “yet it was successfully achieved by our participants on the habit-based programs, without the need for dieting or strenuous exercise.

This is exactly what we are seeing in the Weighless Program, a year-long coaching program for sustainable weight loss. Although we certainly talk about food and movement, there is no prescribed diet or exercise program. Instead, we focus on dismantling that dieter’s mindset and creating the habits and mindset that lead to weighing less, permanently.  (Here’s what that looks like.)

And it’s working! After 10 months in the program, 80% of our members have lost anywhere from 3 to 18% of their starting weight. Many have been successfully maintaining a lower weight for months. And no-one has spent a single day dieting.  It’s exhilarating to witness people finally break free of destructive yo-yo dieting patterns and discover what it’s like to weigh less.

Click here to see what our members are saying.

You don’t necessarily need to join a group or a program to do this.  But if you think some professional guidance and support would be useful, you can find more details about our next Weighless group here.


Dieters Mindset vs Weighless Mindset

I’m guessing you’ve been on your share of diets. (And isn’t that, right there, proof that diets are not the answer?)

Although they rarely deliver permanent weight loss, diets do succeed fabulously at one thing: they’re great at creating a dieter’s mindset. And that mindset tends to follow us around, even when we’re in between diets.

What’s the dieter’s mindset? It’s a tendency to see every food as either “good” or “bad.” Even worse, it’s a tendency to see OURSELVES as “good” or “bad” depending on what we’ve eaten that day.

It’s the dieter’s mindset that puts thoughts like these into your head:

“I shouldn’t have eaten that cake after lunch. But as today is obviously ruined. I might as well go out for nachos after work.”

“I’ll be extra good tomorrow.”

“It’s sugar-free, so make it a large.”

“That’s it: No more carbs (or whatever…) until I lose five pounds.”

Ironically, that dieter’s mindset doesn’t actually help you weigh less, does it? No, it locks you in to a lifetime of dieting.

One of the most important things we do in the Weighless program is to pull that dieter’s mindset out by the roots. In place of those toxic messages, we plant ones that, over time, really do help you weigh less.

The Weighless Mindset is is about making friends with both food and yourself–and reinforcing the habits that support the life (and body) you want to have. Just ask the hundreds of Weighless members who have stopped dieting and started weighing less! Here’s some of what they have to say.

Ready to join them?

All the details are here.

The case for super slow weight loss

One of the things that sets the Weighless approach apart from other weight loss programs is our emphasis on slow weight loss.  Instead of coaching our members to lose a couple of pounds a week, we try to hold them to a couple of pounds a month.

Crazy, right? And yet there is a method to our madness.

Most people can only lose 2-3 pounds of body fat per month. If you’re losing weight faster than that, the rest is likely to be lean muscle. Believe me, that’s NOT what you’re trying to lose. Although our approach may seem like an insanely slow way to lose weight, we’re finding that it’s actually a much quicker (and less unpleasant) path to sustainable fat loss.

Interestingly, our members frequently report that after losing weight the “Weighless way,” they look and their clothes fit as if they have lost much more than they have.

Losing weight slowly not only preserves your metabolism and muscle mass. It also gives you more time to acquire the habits and practice the skills that will help you maintain a lower weight, heading off the dreaded–and seemingly inevitable–rebound weight gain.

It all makes sense, right? But occasionally, someone in the group will ask if there is published research to support the merits of the super slow pace of weight loss we endorse. Fair enough. I’ve built a reputation for being evidence-based, and most of the people who sign up for my programs cite this as one of the reasons they trust my advice.

Show Me the Research

A few studies have compared the effects of slow vs. fast weight loss. For example:

A 2016 study involving almost 60 subjects found that those who lost weight more slowly lost less muscle mass, which was associated with less weight regain. A similar (but longer) study dating back to 1994 compared the effects of “fast” vs. “slow” weight loss and found that the fast losers lost more weight initially but were much more likely to regain it.

The problem is that virtually all of the studies that compare fast and slow weight loss define “slow” as 1-2 pounds a week, which is still too fast by our standards.

There’s this 2008 study which found that small, cumulative changes in diet and activity (similar to the approach we use in Weighless) produced slow but sustainable weight loss–and was ultimately far more effective than giving people standard weight loss advice.

At the other end of the spectrum, the famous (and heartbreaking) “Biggest Loser” study demonstrates just how much damage fast weight can do to your metabolism. After six years, virtually all of the contestants had regained every pound (and more)–despite continuing to eat fewer calories. 

Our approach is certainly informed by research–but it also draws heavily on our experience and common sense. And although we are not (yet) conducting a controlled trial, the results we are seeing and the feedback we are getting from our members are enormously validating.  I think we’re onto something here…and maybe the researchers will take notice.

What’s the best diet for your genetics?

Personalized nutrition is getting a lot of attention these days. Companies will analyze your DNA and tell you what foods and supplements you should and shouldn’t eat based on your genetic profile. But a huge new study throws cold water on the idea of matching your diet to your genetics.  Participants with a “low-carb genotype” (who would hypothetically do better on a low-carb diet) were no more successful on a low-carb diet than on a low-fat diet. The same was true for those with a “low-fat genotype.”

The study also found that, overall, low-carb diets are no better or worse than low-fat diets at producing weight loss.  Those are the two headlines from this study. ( has produced an excellent detailed analysis of the study, if you want to take a deeper dive.)

But there is so much more here that warrants mentioning. Here’s what really got my attention:

None of the study participants were asked to count or limit their calories. Instead, both groups were told to limit their intake of added sugars, refined flour and junk food, and to eat lots of vegetables and whole foods. And that was enough to produce weight loss.  In other words, when you pay attention to the quality of your food choices, the calories often take care of themselves. And when you’re eating a healthy, whole foods diet, low carb is no more effective than low fat.

[bctt tweet=”When you pay attention to the quality of your food choices, the calories often take care of themselves. ” username=”nutritiondiva”]

The other thing that’s notable about this study is that the participants received intensive coaching throughout the year. They were taught how to choose foods that kept them satisfied for fewer calories.   They were encouraged to avoid distracted eating and eat more mindfully. Making sustainable changes was a bigger priority than achieving fast weight loss.  (All of this will sound very familiar to participants of  the Weigh*less program, our 12-month coaching program for sustainable weight loss.)

[bctt tweet=”Making sustainable changes matters more than achieving fast weight loss.” username=”nutritiondiva”]

At the end of the study, the most successful participants reported having changed their relationship to food. And that’s ultimately what’s required for permanent weight loss. Not calorie or fat or carb counting.

Click here to learn more about the Weighless Program.